With true crime becoming increasingly popular over the years, documentaries moved from Dateline, to Netflix, and then to YouTube. Channels like BuzzFeed Unsolved, True Crime Daily, and Danelle Hallan created a large cult following, where viewers anticipate and relish every video.
The attraction prompted YouTube to take a further look into the channels that may potentially be violating their communities’ guidelines. The issue with true crime is that in order to explain a murder, the details may get graphic, leading to some channels getting their videos taken down or being put on strike.
One channel suffering from YouTube’s decision is JCS Criminal Psychology. Only publishing 15 videos since 2017, JCS has collected over 210 million views and nearly five million subscribers. This channel focuses on social and behavioral sciences of citizens under arrest and the law enforcement in charge of prosecuting them.
In each video there is a detailed rundown of the crime, and then the video will transition to the synopsis of the interrogation process. Using the real footage, JCS describes the detectives’ strategies in tricking the culprit into admitting as much information as possible to be used later in court.
The popularity attracted YouTube’s attention, which sparked a deep look into their content. Upon further review, YouTube deemed JCS’s content to be a violation of their guidelines— specifically the violent and graphic policies.
For example, the photo above is a thumbnail from the JCS video, “The Case of Michael Drejka,” which recounts a murder which the defendant claimed was a justifiable homicide, according to Cornell Law meaning, “The taking of a human life under circumstances of justification, as a matter of right, such as self-defense, or other causes set out in statute.”
Michael Drejka shoots one round at Markeis McGlockton, a father of three children who were all under the age of six and with him the day of the murder. McGlockton parked in a handicap spot at a food mart; Drejka confronted him and quickly pulled out a weapon—later claiming it was for “self defense.” The entire incident was caught on camera, and multiple eyewitness confirmed what happened. At this point the detective already knows who did it, but why? In order to collect as much incriminating evidence as possible, the detective asks Drejka a simple question, “Did you say anything to him?”
Startled, Drejka provides a frantic response, “No!” JCS analyzes that his mannerisms are similar to that of a guilty person, and the response was given out of panic and fear. Stating,
If we are in a defensive state of mind, this natural curiosity would be overlooked. As our focus would be projected outwards towards the perceptions of others, rather than inward towards our own.
The case of Michael Drejka is not gruesome, but it is disturbing. JCS presents the topic with educational intent, while being entertaining. However, their channel is still subject to the violent and graphic policies.
Some may argue that shutting down true crime is a good thing. Controversy surrounding most crime channels state that it is offensive to the families involved to talk about their loved ones on YouTube. This has been a topic of conversation for awhile.
Criminal psychology is not the only style of true crime content. Some creators discuss cases while doing their makeup, mukbanging, ASMR and many more.
Not only could the videos potentially traumatize the victim’s family, but also the increased eyes, ears, and opinions brought to the case bring unwanted attention. The true crime community is large and can sometimes be inconsiderate. In the comment sections of these types of videos, fans sometimes argue over and explain their “favorite murder.”
A small YouTuber, known as Ada On Demand, discussed the repercussions of sharing someone’s personal life on social media stating,
These are real events that happened to real people. They are not bedtime stories to entertain you or me.
Whether true crime stands or not, it could be viewed as unfair that these YouTubers are losing their jobs due to the platform’s policies, especially the creators that produce educational videos for their viewers.